By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting
Published: February 12, 2011
The women went off on the combined in Garmisch with another nice day. But the warm temperatures are starting to take their toll on the hills. There was an obvious slush layer on the surface from top to bottom today and the areas outside the line are starting to look dirty from the melt-down. According to www.snow-forecast.com, the weather will remain warm at the bottom of the hill and will get some cooler temperatures from mid-mountain to the top. But that warm weather could be a problem by the end of the week with the hills getting repeatedly beaten on by both DH races and combis. Then the GS races will need to be on those hills as well. Also, the slalom arena is on the Partenkirchen side of town near the jumping stadium and will definitely need some attention as the week goes by. There is a serious possibility that the organizers and FIS will need to resort to chemicals or salt to help keep the snow firm enough to have a fair and safe race.
So after watching the DH portion of the combi it became obvious that the snow softened and the women were more able to deal with the tougher, turnier sections of the hill and were able to stay on line a little better and were able to stay in the course without major mistakes when they got late. Some things I took from the DH portion was that even though many of the true downhillers treated it as a training run, it was a competitive run that reveals a little more than a normal training run. So it showed that Liz Goergl is a real threat to win the DH along with Maria and Lindsey as long as their health comes around. Also Gisin, Paerson and Fenninger showed very well as did Laurenne Ross of the USA. Julia was solid again and of course will compete for a podium in the DH as she always does at the big shows.
But back to the combined, and besides giving us 3 more medals (Fenninger, Tina Maze and Paerson). It allowed us a look at the slalom hill and who might be a strong contender in the slalom event. And aside from the slalom specialists that will be there to make their presence felt, it was obvious that Niki Hosp will be able to make a run at the podium. She was way ahead of everyone else in the race by winning the run by 1.3 or so over some very solid slalom girls and she has one run on the hill this week where others like Schild, Poutiainen, etc. do not have that chance. Again, congratulations to Anna Fenninger of Austria for her first-ever World Championship medal, and a gold one it is!